Yesterday was a typical day with regard to pharmacy issues. Four of my patients received incorrect information from their pharmacy (Walgreens and CVS seem to be the most common ones) and asked me to call their pharmacy to solve a problem that the pharmacy claimed was my fault, in each case I had to sit on hold for 10 to 20 minutes and speak with the pharmacist to correct the inaccurate information. In all three cases (and in 95% of all situations where my information and the pharmacy information seems to conflict) it turned out, after I guided the pharmacist through their software, it was a pharmacy mistake.
- One patient was told that she did not have any additional refills for her medication. I checked my prescription records and noted that she did have refills. I asked her to call the pharmacist which she did and was told the same thing. I called the pharmacist and after some discussion she told me that the problem was that the patient had filled her prescription within the past 30 days so her request for refill was too early and that was the reason it was denied (her insurance company would not pay for it). I passed this on to the patient who looked at the bottle and found that the date that I was told when she last filled her prescription did not match the date on the bottle, in other words someone entered the wrong information in the pharmacy computer.
- One patient went to get a prescription and was told that a prior authorization would be required. The pharmacy faxed me a notification but the fax referred to an inactive prescription (I had discontinued the medication).
- One patient switched to a different pharmacy but her old Walgreens keeps requesting additional refills despite the fact that she has called them to ask them to stop.
- One pharmacy placed three urgent phone calls asking me to write for a controlled substance prescription for a patient. It turned out, however, that the pharmacy had filled the prescription early (not as prescribed) and when payment was denied by the insurance company and so they cancelled the old prescription, all without telling me or the patient.
On the other hand, almost all of the patients who have switched to the Alto Pharmacy (which delivers medications for free throughout the Bay Area) have been very satisfied with the service. Alto provides a secure messaging system that allows me to communicate quickly and efficiently with the pharmacist in case of any issues or problems and they go out of their way to help with prior authorizations and special requests.
I encourage all of my patients to consider switching to Alto. Most especially so that you avoid paying me to sit on hold for your current pharmacy so that I can tell them to look at their computer system again and find the mistake they made.